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What B2B firms can learn from B2C brands in emerging markets

Technology is making the world a much smaller place and increasingly businesses are taking advantage of the opportunity that global expansion offers.

However, companies with truly global ambitions should set their sights on emerging markets and the massive potential they represent. The BRIC nations and other countries across Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa are turning heads for both B2C and B2B brands alike, for a variety of different reasons. 

Firstly, many of these territories are experiencing significant economic growth, in fact accelerating at a faster rate than many developed markets. Secondly, unlike many businesses in the West that are inundated with marketing from companies, in emerging markets the competition from other global businesses is still relatively scarce – meaning that it’s still all to play for in these new markets.

We conducted research with Ovum earlier this year, titled The Next Mobile Frontier, which investigated brand perception and mobile trends among consumers in China, India, Vietnam, Nigeria and Brazil. The data highlighted some interesting points that can not only help consumer brands, but B2B businesses too – after all, we’re all consumers at the end of the day. For those businesses hoping to crack the code in new regions, here are a few tips worthy of consideration:

Leverage local knowledge: 
It might sound obvious, but history is littered with examples of culture clashes when companies try to expand into new markets. To illustrate, our study showed that 78% of people consider whether content is familiar and easy to understand as key factors in their purchase decision. There are a myriad of firms that specialise in helping businesses break into new markets and can start to break down the barriers for your company, as well as helping ensure you make all the right noises.

Organise a team with local experience: 
The best consumer example of this comes from internet behemoth Google, which has successfully built its team to launch Android One in India with local expertise. The man in charge is Indian and understands the nuances of doing business in that market – while it is important to keep a company’s brand on message in new territories, it is going to be easier to bring someone local on board that can help mould your message in new markets than to force a Western approach on an emerging market.

Partner with a local brand: 
The telecoms industry is particularly good at doing this, for example Apple teamed up with China Telecom to enter that market with its iPhone and has reaped the rewards of a 28% growth in revenue in the country, according to its July earnings announcement. Our research indicates that emerging market consumers prefer buying from a local brand when content includes cultural references or is expressed in a way they can understand (76%). 

When we discuss emerging markets, it’s easy to be guilty of grouping them into broad-brush categories according to their region, but if businesses don’t think enough about the unique differences and nuances of each and every one of these markets they are bound to fail. Even if they have some initial success, the company that does it right will soon see market domination and success in these growing markets now could reap huge dividends in the years to come.